One of the first jobs I had as an adult was working in a bookstore. Books are the love of my life and although retail sucks all, being around books at least made it worth it. Of course, as is common in bookstores, there is a different kind of employee that works at them. Many of my co-workers were in college or had degrees. Most were just working in something they love until they got the job they really wanted. It wasn't uncommon to have bosses with an MFA or working on a PhD. It made for an intellectually stimulating environment. This was a bit of a problem though, because at that age I was still thoroughly indoctrinated into Christianity and my analytical skills were almost nonexistent. It meant that when a co-worker complained about religion, I couldn't separate my own personal feelings from the situation and always felt like I was being attacked. I used to tell people that I was the only Christian working there, which was ridiculous because I worked with people who held a wide variety of beliefs. It wasn't all in my head though.
One thing my co-workers did that did made my workplace feel uncomfortable at times was the assumption that I thought and believed like they did. They would sit around the break room table trash talking a particular group of people and just assumed that everyone at that table was in agreement with them. As if working in a bookstore somehow made all our values, morals, politics, and religion in sync. It was infuriating. This has always seemed strange to me, because when I meet new people I never assume they would agree with me on anything. That is something that we discover if a friendship begins to form. I also don't take silence as agreement either. Just because someone is not challenging you on a particular idea does not mean they agree with you. In fact, my experience has been that it is just the opposite. Silence usually signals disapproval. I'll come back to this point shortly. For example: At the time I was fairly homophobic. I believed firmly that homosexuality was a sin, curable, and those who engaged in it were too sinful to even understand the concept of love. My co-workers would sit around discussing something like marriage rights and although I remained quite for fear of confrontation, under no circumstances did I agree with them. Secretly, I would pray for them and wonder how they could be so blind to "the truth".
When I was twenty-three I decided to go back to school and moved to Boston, attending one of the most liberal colleges in the country. (currently sits at #22) Now, I didn't care at all about the school's political leanings, which is why it came as a bit of a surprise when one of my professors went on a George W. Bush diatribe for a half-hour during class. I hadn't voted for Bush because I was still in my 'Third Party only' phase, but all I could think of while he winged on and on was how this man obviously just assumed that every person in that room agreed with him. I finally spoke up and asked when we were going to talk about stuff for class and he got the hint and moved on. Afterward, I told him that it wasn't about agreeing or disagreeing with him and his viewpoints, it's just that I am paying a lot of money for this class and it is a waste of that money to rag on the POTUS. Unless it has to do with the lesson, it just seemed a frivolous waste of time and money. It was also in Boston that I began to meet Christians who weren't all Evangelical right-wing young earth creationists. I met and AIDS researcher who believed in evolution AND was a Christian. Or the PhD philosophy professor who taught an apologetics course at my church and readily admitted that no one can be 100% certain there is a God. My mother thought it was the school that made more liberal in my ideology, but it was actually the church. I was finally meeting Christians who seemed to understand that in order to love your neighbor, you had to do more than assume they were demon-possessed and pray, you had to actually help them.
Of course, as time went on and my faith began to erode, I entered in a moral gray area. In this place, I was surrounded by people who assumed I believed like they did because otherwise why would you be here? It never occurred to any of them that even if I was still a Christian, there were things that we wouldn't agree on like gay marriage or sex before marriage. I did begin to speak up, sharing my feelings about bad Christian movies, homosexuality, and mission work. And it was like talking to the air. I began to resent them for their stupidity. Their blind adherence to a faith that they obviously didn't understand. A faith that most of them only believed in because they were taught to. I became disgusted by the people who had clearly not read their entire Bible. I chastised them for it, actually. Now, remember, I was still a believer at this point, I was just tired of the willful ignorance.
Right now at my current workplace, politics are the main topic of conversation and most of my co-workers are yet again assuming that everyone agrees with them. There's no possible way that anyone would support Trump right? Yet, I know, from experience, that there are. I have co-workers who I am pretty sure voted for Trump either because they always vote Republican, they are a one-issue voter, or for some reason they like the guy. Remember what I said earlier: Silence usually signals disapproval. In fact, I think that is how we got to the place we are now. I hear Trump supporters talk often about PC culture and how they feel like they have been silenced. And in a way they have. They know that by openly talking about certain subjects like marriage equality they could be labeled as homophobic. Even if they are, this has become socially unacceptable and so they keep their mouths shut. I know this because this used to be me.
Now, that is not to say that their feelings are reality. In reality, the reason homophobic talk is frowned upon is not because they are being silenced for the beliefs but because we as a society have moved to a point where it is socially unacceptable to tell someone they are going to hell for who they love. And more and more evidence is pointing to homosexuality as being genetic and the natural world tells us it is normal as well. The normalization isn't because people are sinful cretins, almost the opposite, it is because we are learning how to be nicer. At least we were. Trump's hate speech has certainly made the silent feel like they have a voice again...and what a racist, bigoted, prejudiced voice it is too.
As always, I am right in the middle on my feelings about stuff. I refuse to be a doomsday conspiracy theorist about the next four years (unlike many of my co-workers), yet I also do not think the next four years is going to be good for anyone. I look to countries like Zimbabwe and see historical precedent for how quickly things can change in a country and not for the better. And I see four more years where I will have to remain silent, because speaking up seems pointless. I'm naturally cynical, yet I try to live the life of an optimist.
And here is a secret for my secret blog that only my husband and I know...we have been actively looking at moving to a foreign country. I am not kidding. I am not a patriot. I love this place that I call home, but traveling the world has shown me that there are a lot of good places out there and yeah, some of them are better in some respects. If this country starts going to the crapper, I'm leaving. My husband is high enough up in his global company, and with a specialized enough skill set, that he would be able to transfer easily. We have a list of countries we both agree on and have both begun to research them. We're looking at schooling, university, crime stats, social issues, cost of living, laws, and ease of intriculation. I already ruled out Ireland, because abortion is illegal, it's still super religious, and our black adopted son would have a hard time there. UK too due to the whole Brexit bullshit and their hostility to foreigners, particularly those that aren't white. Countries still on the list: Finland, New Zealand, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Canada, and Singapore. This may never happen mind you. But I'm not afraid to leave either. I'll move on to greener pastures because I've only got this one life to live and I sure as hell am not sticking around if my country decides that it is better to be dicks in order to keep their archaic beliefs than it is to be good.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.